I’ve seen my fair share of products come across my desk for review in the time I’ve been writing. Not very often can I say that the product has taken up my entire desk. The Braven BRV-XXL Bluetooth Speaker is definitely in this category.
First, here are the nuts and bolts of what we’re talking about.
- 4 HD drivers, 1 subwoofer
- 14-hour playtime (15,600 mAh battery)
- 10 meter Bluetooth range
- IP5X Certified
- Dimensions: 20.25in x 8.25in x 9.5in
- Weight: 18lbs
Yep. You read that right. 18lbs. This puppy is huge. When I see something that big, my first thought is “there is plenty of room to fit in quality components. This thing is going to sound great.” Does it? Read on to find out.
The Braven BRV-XXL has an imposing design. With black hard plastic, black screws, and gray metal grills, this thing wouldn’t look out of place at any work site. The buttons rest on the ends of the device and are flush with the body. This makes them impossible to make out unless you’re looking directly at them, a problem we’ve mentioned in previous reviews, but it does get a nice flush look to the body. All of the ports sit under a flap to keep them protected.
Sitting just above the grill is the smartest part of the BRV-XXL’s design: a handle. This speaker would basically be impossible to carry around without it due to its size and weight. Luckily, the handle is part of the body and not removable. It’s not coming off or getting lost anytime soon.
Braven made some interesting choices regarding the sides of the device. It houses all the controls for the device and smartly uses a softer material instead of the hard plastic on the handle, but not all is good news.
I previously mentioned the flap that covers the ports on the exterior of the body. There are a generous amount of ports including a DC input to charge the battery (sorry, no microUSB charging), a full-size USB port that you can use to charge up your phone (5V/1A), and two AUX ports (one for a microphone and one for a phone or other audio device).
The opposite side of the BRV-XXL houses our control buttons. This is where you’ll find the power, play, and audio up and down buttons. It isn’t hard to memorize which button is where, thus negating the confusing design. Each button does have a cut-out symbol for its purpose, but its more for aesthetics than practicality. You probably won’t be able to tell which button you’re running your finger over in the dark on feel alone.
Above the Braven logo on this side of the speaker is an NFC hotspot where you can place your phone to pair it with the speaker. I find that Bluetooth connections work better than NFC for speakers, so I don’t know if I’d recommend using it. In the middle is a string of LED lights that indicate volume or how high or low your Bass or Treble are set.
The grill covers both long sides of the speaker, as well as the bottom. It feels hard and industrial. I love how it looks and I have zero doubt it’s going to hold up to some abuse.
I have two words to describe how loud the Braven BRV-XXL gets: Holy. Crap.
My previous experience with the high-end Bluetooth speakers includes the UE Megaboom, Braven BRV-HD, and the Fugoo XL series. This absolutely dusts every one of them in terms of pure knock-your-socks-off volume. I have a pretty big, open living room and try to use that as my purely unscientific test on how loud a speaker can get. If I can crank it up and it fills the room, I’m happy. I had the Braven BRV-XXL at a quarter volume and it filled the room. Half its volume was too loud for the space.
The Braven BRV-XXL is one of the best sounding Bluetooth speakers I’ve heard. It outperforms all of the previously mentioned speakers in terms of low-end kick. The bass is satisfying at higher volumes, but I can see where someone listening at lower volumes might feel a bit let down. It definitely improves as the volume rises.
Vocals sound great too. I love listening to powerful female vocalists and their voices come through feeling rich and full. The high ends aren’t too forward, which can happen from time to time on other speakers, so you won’t be troubled by piercing audio.
While the volume can get extremely loud, it does distort just the smallest amount at the highest volumes. If you’re getting into the highest 10% or so of volume, you can pick up some slight distortions. But, honestly, I don’t know how many people are going to get there. Using this as the music system at an outdoor birthday party, we still kept the speaker around half volume and it filled the rather large yard we were hosting the party in. It’s just impressive.
Odds and Ends
Battery life is dead on the estimates given by Braven. I’ve listened through about four battery cycles and hit within an hour on either side of the 14-hour estimate every time. While 14 hours is enough to get you through a couple of parties, I felt a bit lacking in this department. Speakers like the Fugoo XL and UE Megaboom have significantly longer battery life in significantly smaller packages.
In the box, you’ll find adapters for other outlet types from around the world, in addition to a shoulder strap for even easier transportation.
One of the standout features that most people are glossing over is the ability to turn the BRV-XXL into a mobile PA system. The second AUX input for a microphone takes this from just a very loud speaker to a very loud PA system that shouldn’t have any issue cutting through crowd noise at large events. If you’re the owner of a business that regularly goes to places like street fairs, this would be a really great option to draw people to your booth or establishment.
There is nothing about the Braven BRV-XXL that isn’t big. Big sound, big body, big price tag. The $350 price tag (Amazon) is nothing to blush at. It runs at a higher price than competitors from UE and Fugoo, but you do gain truly superior volume with Braven. I’ll definitely be taking this to the beach this summer and tailgating in the fall due to the fact that it’s very versatile. Is it big and unwieldy? Yeah, sure, but it’s nothing I can’t handle with the attached handle or the shoulder strap that Braven included.